Retail

Retail Pulse: 7-Eleven Tests Cashierless Tech; Staples Debuts Connect Store Concept

Retail Pulse: 7-Eleven Tests Cashierless Tech

Brick-and-mortar retailers are testing convenience store designs that let consumers skip the checkout line and pay for their purchases with their mobile phones. 7-Eleven, in one case, is experimenting with a cashierless store concept at its corporate headquarters in Texas.

7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto said in an announcement, “Retail technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and customer expectations are driving the evolution. Our team is dedicated to continuing 7-Eleven’s legacy of innovation with industry-leading digital solutions. Most recently, that has included our award-winning 7Rewards loyalty platform, 7NOW on-demand delivery, mobile checkout and now our new cashierless store.”

Employees can shop at the store by downloading an app and signing up. They then check in at the location, enter the space, shop and leave, at which time a detailed receipt shows up in the app. According to the company, a proprietary mixture of algorithms and predictive technology enables the store to separate each shopper and their purchases from others in the location. The store offers a selection of snacks, groceries and beverages, among other products.

Mani Suri, 7-Eleven senior vice president and chief information officer, said in the announcement, “Ultimately, our goal is to exceed consumers’ expectations for faster, easier transactions and a seamless shopping experience. Introducing new store technology to 7-Eleven employees first has proven to be a very productive way to test and learn before launching to a wider audience.”

Beyond 7-Eleven, Retail Business Services (RBS), the services company of Ahold Delhaize, announced in November that it was experimenting with a new frictionless store technology at its Massachusetts office. The tech allowed individuals to shop a small-format store in seconds by scanning in, shopping and walking out. RBS had the task of application development, food retail operations and technology connectivity, while UST Global and its partners provided the artificial intelligence (AI) solution and physical infrastructure.

From RBS to 7-Eleven, retail innovators are piloting cashierless technology with their employees to help make the shopping experience faster and more convenient for the general public.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

Staples is thinking creatively with a new store format that spotlights coworking, podcasting and community events. The Staples Connect concept, which offers experiences and solutions as well as a place to transact, debuted in multiple Boston area stores on Feb. 5. Its offerings include a 500-square-foot community space for meetings, workshops and speaker sessions. Each Staples Connect store also has marketing and technology services, among other offerings.

Mike Motz, CEO of Staples U.S. Retail, said in an announcement, “We recognize that the way people shop is changing, and with the launch of Staples Connect, we are adapting to fit the needs of our customers. Our customers are teachers, students of all ages, small business owners and side hustlers.”

On another note, IKEA will reportedly close a U.K. location, as the retailer said the store had a “substantially lower” number of shoppers than first forecast. The Coventry location had regularly registered losses as of its 2007 opening, as consumers chose to instead shop via retail parks or eCommerce. The store will shutter in the summer.

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager and chief sustainability officer of the group’s division for the U.K. and Ireland, said per one published report, “Although this isn’t an easy decision, this is the right decision for the long-term success of Ikea in the U.K.” The furniture retailer opened its first store in the center of Paris in the Madeleine section of the city in May.

And Foxtrot announced a $17 million growth round co-led by Imaginary and Wittington Ventures, along with investments from Lerer Hippeau, Fifth Wall and others. The company aims to create its own take on the classic counter convenience store, offering natural wines and craft beer along with several of its own brands of sandwiches. The company provides on-demand delivery of everything that is sold on its app.

Foxtrot is currently based in Chicago and Dallas, but has plans to grow elsewhere. The company works with around 100 brands in total. Beyond their own brands, they also offer an array of familiar food and beverage products such as Bud Light and Oreo, in addition to some everyday products like Bounty paper towels. The company also provides a loyalty program that can net customers free delivery for a month if they spend over $100.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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